Fiona Smith Columnist

Fiona writes on workplace issues, including management, psychology, workplace design, human resources and recruitment. She is a former Work Space editor at The Australian Financial Review and has also covered property, technology, architecture and general news.

View more articles from Fiona Smith

Rating employees online: A step too far for review sites

Published 27 August 2013 07:28, Updated 27 August 2013 13:14

+font -font print
Rating employees online: A step too far for review sites

People who cop bad personal ratings online seem to have little in the way of a comeback. Photo: Andrew Quilty

It was a consumer revolution when review sites took off a decade ago. Buyers were finally able to warn others of their bad experiences and recommend their good ones.

Sites like TripAdvisor could steer you towards a great holiday; Yelp could find you an electrician and other review sites could help you choose the best dishwasher.

And then employer review sites such as Glassdoor in the United States and, in Australia, JobAdvisor, launched to allow people to say, anonymously, what it was like to work there.

“Worst company I’ve ever worked [for] in my life,” says a former employee of a company (very near to me) on JobAdvisor.

Despite the occasional dyspeptic review like this, employers jumped in and co-opted those sites to drive their recruitment efforts, encouraging their employees to flood the sites with reviews, and reasoning any negative posts would be drowned out by all the satisfied staff members.

Glassdoor is now a powerful force in recruitment worldwide as a jobs board, research tool and employer branding.

But, at the edges, review sites can be a bit of a worry.

Ratemyteachers.com allows anonymous school and university students to give star ratings to their teachers.

“She’s the worst teacher I have ever had . . . I feel sorry for whoever has her,” writes one student from my son’s high school.

I shudder to think what a 14-year-old me would have written if I’d had the opportunity.

And there’s little defence. Asking a classroom full of teenagers to flood the site with positive reviews to smother bad ones is just asking for more trouble.

As one teacher in the US complains: “It is devastating to good teachers to have their names slandered online by students anonymously . . . It seems to me that only the ones who have negative things to say use your website.

“Where do they get the right to abuse teachers. How can a student decide that a teacher with 26 years of experience and a masters degree doesn’t know what they are talking about? I find it totally insulting and a disgrace.”

In another development, recruitment start-up OneShift is an employment platform that matches job seekers to jobs, and allows the employers to use a star system to rate how well they performed.

A couple of US-based sites, such as Ratemyemployees.com, have also attempted to make a go of it.

Again, if you have a dysfunctional boss who decides to give you a one-star rating, it is highly unlikely that you will have enough former bosses who will balance the scale.

A spokeswoman from OneShift says if an employee gets a bad rating, doesn’t get paid, has a bad experience, then OneShift will “look into it” and will ban the employer from the site and remove the rating from the employee’s profile.

“However, if all goes well and everyone is happy, then the business gets a ‘thumbs up’ from OneShift [similar to a Twitter verified account] that they are a good employer.”

Topics:

Comments